Celebrating More Than Three Decades of Excellence
Since 1989, DAN and Rolex® have collaborated to honor an individual who has made substantial contributions to dive medicine, safety or research and to name that person the DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year. One of the most prestigious honors in diving, this award was first presented as a grant to DAN from Rolex to recognize the organization’s work on behalf of divers.
Proven Time and Time Again
Through the years, DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year Award recipients have come from many different disciplines. Although their backgrounds have been different, award winners consistently share similar qualities that help distinguish them from other deserving candidates. Time and time again, strong leadership, an unwavering commitment to excellence and a high-level of integrity have established the foundation for success.
Rolex® Perpetual Spirit
Launched in 1953, the Submariner was the first divers’ wristwatch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). In watchmaking, the Submariner represented a historic turning point; it set the standard for divers’ watches and was the watch that unlocked the deep. Today, DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year Award Recipients receive an iconic Rolex watch to commemorate their contribution to the industry that will live on forever.
David Charash, D.O., Named 2022 DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year
An emergency medicine and undersea and hyperbaric medicine physician, Dr. Charash supports recreational, commercial, and public safety divers through medical care, education, and training.
DAN / Rolex Diver of the Year Award Recipients
Celebrating three decades of excellence in dive medicine, safety, and research
David Charash, D.O.
2022 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
David Charash is a board-certified emergency medicine and undersea and hyperbaric medicine physician who has been caring for injured divers since 1993. Dr. Charash has developed workshops, symposiums, lectures, and podcasts about dive medicine, safety, and technology. He has lectured at the United States Coast Guard Academy and the Naval Undersea Medical Institute and is an advisor to the Diving Control Board at the New England Aquarium.
Richard Moon, M.D.
2021 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Richard Moon is a professor of anesthesiology at Duke University and the medical director of the Duke Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology. He is also a former medical director of DAN. Throughout his 40-year career in dive medicine and research, Dr. Moon has sought to gain a better understanding of the cardiorespiratory functioning of human bodies when subjected to environmental conditions such as being deep underwater or at high altitude. His research into the effects of decompression has benefited hundreds of divers suffering from decompression sickness and other dive-related injuries.
David Wilkinson, Ph.D.
2019 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
David Wilkinson is a senior staff specialist in anesthesiology and the medical director of the hyperbaric medicine unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. A researcher and educator, he is also a clinical lecturer at the University of Adelaide and a Fellow of Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine.
Wilkinson has dedicated his career not only to diving medicine but to treating many of the ailments that can be improved with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to hyperbaric medicine.
2018 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Jarrod Jablonski is an avid explorer, researcher, author, and instructor and is the founder and president of Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). GUE is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation and discovery of the aquatic realm. Jablonski is also the CEO of Halcyon Manufacturing and Extreme Exposure Adventure Center. His explorations regularly place him in the most remote locations in the world, including several world record excursions at 90m/300feet during cave penetrations of nearly 10km/29,000feet.
2017 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
A former president of the Northeast Chapter of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Michael Emmerman has studied flying after diving, decompression algorithms, and the implementation of early dive computers. He also contributed to the NOAA diving manuals and conducted research that gave rise to industry standards for today’s dive computers.
2016 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
The founder of Performance Freediving International (PFI), Kirk Krack helped develop the education and certification programs that are now standard in freediving. Krack has contributed to studies on the effects of hypoxia on the human body and helped further conversations about ocean conservation.
The second oldest freediving-specific training agency in the world, PFI has trained and certified more than 10,000 freedivers since its inception in 2000.
Simon Mitchell, Ph.D.
2015 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Simon Mitchell, MB, ChB, Ph.D., is a professor of anesthesiology and a diving medicine specialist at the University of Auckland School of Medicine. Mitchell’s studies on decompression theory and dive medicine have been published in numerous publications, and he has held numerous service and executive roles in academic societies and organizations.
Karen Van Hosen, M.D.
2014 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Karen van Hoesen is a leading authority on dive medicine and is a board-certified emergency medicine physician based in San Diego, California. With her specialization in hyperbaric medicine, Dr. Van Hoesen uses hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat conditions like decompression illness, gas gangrene, carbon monoxide poisoning and more. She also has an interest in high-altitude medicine and wilderness medicine.
Frank L. Chapman
2013 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Frank Chapman has dedicated his career to dive safety and training thousands of divers. A faculty member of University of North Carolina – Wilmington, Chapman has provided training and support, and developed dive safety plans for scientific, archeological, and recreational diving.
Chapman has been an avid diver since the 1950s and twice in the 1970s, served as a researcher and aquanaut in the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration’s (NOAA) Hydrolab underwater habitat missions.
Alex Brylske, Ph.D.
2012 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Alex Brylske is a prolific marine science educator, writer, author, scientific diver, and program developer. He was a professor of marine science and technology at Florida Keys Community College and helped developed training protocols for PADI.
Dr. Brylske also founded Ocean Education International, an organization that focuses on environmental education and professional development services in the marine tourism industry.
Tom Neuman, M.D.
2011 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Tom Neuman is a world-renowned dive medicine researcher and clinician who started his career as a recreational scuba instructor. Later he served in the U.S. Navy as a diving and submarine medical officer, and after years in the military, began practicing medicine in the private sector.
Dr. Neuman has done extensive research on arterial gas embolisms and served as a consultant for NASA.
2010 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Gene Hobbs created the Rubicon Foundation in 2002 to participate in research projects that can benefit from technology and extended collaboration. The Rubicon Research Repository has one of the largest electronic collections of diving and hyperbaric research and literature.
Hobbs help compile information and index the library. Hobbs is also a NAUI instructor, and a coordinator at the Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Paul Auerback, M.D.
2009 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Paul Auerbach had a prestigious career as a professor of emergency medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and pioneered the field of wilderness medicine.
He authored numerous articles on emergency medicine, hazardous marine animals, and scuba diving. Dr. Auerbach also founded the Wilderness Medical Society.
Ivan Montoya, M.D.
2008 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Ivan Montoya is a leading expert in hyperbaric medicine and is a diving physician at the Diving Center in Mercy Hospital in Miami, Florida. He’s specializes in treating type II decompression sickness and has successfully treated many divers.
Jeff Bozanic, Ph.D.
2007 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Jeff Bozanic, Ph.D., is a technical and scientific diver who strives to expand the scientific knowledge of the underwater world. He’s led numerous diving expeditions around the globe and has written extensively on dive safety and proper rebreather use.
Bozanic is also president of Next Generation Services, through which he provides consultation and training services in the dive industry.
2006 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Scott Taylor is the co-owner of A-1 Scuba and Travel Center in Littleton, Colorado, and is a PADI Course Director, DAN Instructor Trainer, and one of the first Instructor Trainers to be certified by the Handicapped Scuba Association (HAS).
Taylor started diving in 1969 and works with a local hospital to bringing patients into his dive center to experience scuba diving. Taylor also volunteers with local children’s camps.
Albert José Jones, Ph.D.
2005 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Albert José Jones is an educator, scientist, and diver who is a professor of marine biology and environmental science at the University of the District of Columbia. He’s also the founder of Underwater Adventure Seekers — which is the founding club of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers.
Dr. Jones’ diving career began while serving in the U.S Navy and is a Purple Heart Veteran. Dr. Jones is a fierce advocate for diver safety and visits universities and schools to teach students about oceanography, environmental sciences, and scuba diving.
Thomas Jaskulski, Ph.D.
2004 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Thomas Jaskulski was a Navy combat corpsman, military diver, and a respiratory therapist. Jaskulski was also a volunteer for the Devils Hole Dive Team and helped monitor populations of Devils Hole pupfish.
Jaskulski also founded the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department dive team and was responsible for trainings and underwater searches. Jaskulski passed away in 2018.
2003 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Andrea Zaferes is one of the world’s leading trainers in international water rescue, and has trained hundreds of police, fire, EMS, military, and U.S. Coast Guard personnel throughout the world.
Zaferes is the Vice President of Team Lifeguard Systems, LLC, an organization dedicated to rescue and recovery training. Zaferes is also a PADI, DAN, and Red Cross instructor and an expert legal witness for diving and other water-related incidents.
2002 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Marc Kaiser is the hyperbaric technical director for the Diving Medical Center at Mercy Hospital in Miami, Florida, and has been heavily involved in dive safety since his college years. In 1982, Kaiser founded Makai Marine Industries, Inc., to provide hyperbaric services to mostly Caribbean-based entities.
In the early 1980s, Kaiser created a trailer-based hyperbaric chamber that has boosted accessibility to recompression services — which later became Mercy Hospital’s Diving Medical Center.
Bill Hamilton, Ph.D.
2001 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Bill Hamilton was a leading dive researcher who helped make significant advances on the effects of gases both under increased pressure and in hypobaric environments. His work helped lead to the development of decompression modeling tools and procedures for divers, astronauts, and hyperbaric staffers.
He created his own researching consulting firm, Hamilton Research, Ltd., which helped advance medical protocols for outside entities. Dr. Hamilton received hundreds of awards and honors from many diving and science organizations. He passed away in 2011.
2000 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Greg Mackay has devoted his career to providing resources and training to dive professionals and helped solidify industry standards. In 1984, he founded Pro Dive’s Scuba Career Development Program, which became one of PADI’s first Instructor Development Centers, and later became one of the first PADI Career Development Centers.
Hillary Viders, Ph.D.
1999 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Hillary Viders is a conservationist, speaker, educator, and diver whose dive specialties include marine science and conservation, undersea and hyperbaric medicine, shipwreck exploration, and dive accident management.
Dr. Viders also co-founded the Women Divers Hall of Fame. Her work in science and dive medicine has been published in thousands of publications and books and earned her many awards.
Richard Dunford, M.S.
1998 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Richard Dunford is an accomplished diver and dive medicine researcher and was a previous researcher with DAN. Dunford has published numerous reports and articles on hyperbaric medicine and decompression sickness.
Lee Somers, Ph.D.
1997 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Lee Somers was a specialist in diver education, dive technology, and aquatic accident management. He taught oceanography and scuba diving at the University of Michigan for 30 years, while also serving as the university’s dive safety officer.
Dr. Somers was also a driving force of many safety education efforts at Michigan Sea Grant and was also lead researcher for the organization. Dr. Somers passed away in 2015.
1996 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
The founder of Diving Unlimited International, Inc., Dick Long is a leader in drysuit design, manufacturing, dive procedures, and buoyancy control.
Long began diving in 1958 and started his own dive equipment business just one year later. In addition to suit development, he’s developed helmets, gas manifold systems, backpack harnesses, buoyancy control systems, and more.
1995 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Marjorie Bank was a marine photographer who most notably took photographs of great white sharks. Her work won recognition from Our World Underwater and the National Association of Underwater Instructors. She also served on the advisory board of the Baltimore National Aquarium.
Glen Egstrom, Ph.D.
1994 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Glen Egstrom was a lead researcher in dive performance and helped development fitness principles for diving. Dr. Egstrom served with the U.S. Army and Air Force in Korea, and later had a successful career at UCLA retiring as the Director of the Underwater Kinesiology Laboratory.
Dr. Egstrom also served as a Captain in the LA County Sheriff Emergency Services Detail for 28 years. Dr. Egstrom logged over 10,000 hours diving globally.
1993 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Karl Huggins is a scientific diver who has made significant contributions to decompression limits and its understanding. Thanks to his research, Huggins helped develop a set of decompression dive tables still in use today and developed a decompression algorithm used in the first commercially successful dive computer.
Huggins has been the director at the University of Southern California Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber since 1992 and is a fierce advocate for diver safety and training.
Drew Richardson, Ed.D.
1992 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
PADI CEO Drew Richardson has trained and certified more than 3,000 divers. Richardson’s passion for education and training helped him advance PADI’s instructional system. He’s an accomplished author who has published more than 500 articles and papers.
Michael Lang, Ph.D.
1991 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Michael Lang is a scientist and diver who has dedicated his career to enhancing safety in scuba diving. Lang’s work has included decompression sickness risk management, technological advances, marine natural history education, and providing training in extreme polar and tropical environments.
Lang has written several books and is currently the co-director of San Diego Center of Excellence in Diving at UC San Diego.
1990 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Jim Corry is the former head of diving for the U.S. Secret Service and a director emeritus of the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. Corry’s career was in the telecommunications industry, but he has spent decades volunteering for different diving organizations, including the Foundation for Underwater Research & Education and the Association for Rescue at Sea.
Walt “Butch” Hendrick
1989 DAN / Rolex Diver Of The Year
Walt “Butch” Hendrick is the founder and president of Lifeguard Systems, an international rescue and recovery training organization, where he has developed rescue procedures and training courses that have been implemented in 15 countries.
Hendrick and his family founded and ran one of the first scuba resorts in Puerto Rico and installed the first nonmilitary hyperbaric chamber in the Caribbean. Hendrick is also noted author, public speaker, and dive rescue expert.
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